Alison in Abidjan: A Visit from my Mama!

I know a lot of people say this, but I really love my mom. We always share lots of laughs together, we find it very easy to get along, and no matter where in the world my wanderlust takes me, she always comes to visit. Orson, Pennsylvania - summers at camp. Brooklyn. Los Angeles. Lyon, France. Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Without fail, she visits me. As the song goes, Ain't no mountain high, ain't no valley low ...

In keeping with her flawless record, my mom visited Abidjan for two weeks. Here are a few places we visited and things that we did:

GRAND BASSAM

Since this trip also marked the beginning of my mom's retirement (WOO!), I thought it best to start with a well-deserved R&R weekend at the beach. Though Grand Bassam is now infamous for being the site of a 2016 terrorist attack, we know Grand Bassam for its gorgeous beaches, strong waves, and friendly service at Etoile de Sud. This was the perfect start to our vacation, and couldn't have been more relaxing.

Pineapple by the beach, sold on the stalk. Retirement is sweet, and vacation with my mom is even sweeter!

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD

The last time I went to Bassam I befriended a woman who sells wraps. We made a visit to see her so mom could get in uniform.

ABIDJAN

We went to the markets, bought pagne, visited different tailors throughout the city, watched football matches, ate at my favorite maquis, went swimming, played cards, visited my school (where she was received like a queen!), and tasted as many different types of food as possible. Admittedly, my mom didn't take to all of the foods the way I have, but we still had a blast!

Relaxing by the pool. Coming from a Philadelphia winter to a brutally hot Abidjan proved difficult.

Obviously she had to get some Ivorian dresses made while she was here!

Sharing a drink at sunset.

MARRAKESH

A wonderful weekend filled with Arabic/French, hammam baths, delicious food, countless "self-appointed guides of the city," belly dancing, history, henna, new friends, and and lots of laughs. Though I still wish we'd had the foresight to book a walking tour before arriving (they're my favorite way to become acquainted with a city), it's amazing to reflect on how much ground we covered and all of the sites we visited! See below for full itinerary.

One last note: the music in this video is actually recorded from a group of elderly women who were performing outside of Ben Youssef Madrasa. Though they didn't want their faces to be filmed, they were happy to let us record the music. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday:

Jemaa el-Fnaa

Ben Youssef Madrasa

Tanneries

Friday:

Mille & Une Nuits Hammam Spa. I absolutely LOVED our experience here. I also went to this same Hammam back in 2014 while I was studying abroad. For first timers: be prepared to be publicly naked for most of this experience! You leave on bottoms, but are otherwise exposed and sharing spaces with other people of the same sex. Additionally, the scrubs and massages are just that - scrubs and massages. If you don't think you'd be comfortable being exfoliated or massaged (front & back) by someone else while you're naked, this isn't for you. If you are willing, you won't regret it!

Jemaa el-Fnaa and its connecting alleys for some shopping

Dinner and Belly Dancing show at Comptoir Darna

Saturday:

El Badi Palace

Mellah Spice Market inevitably you will walk away from one of these vendors with an entirely new skin care regimen, at the center of which are savon noir (black soap) et huile d'argan (argan oil)

Saadian Tombs

Koutoubia Mosque

We stayed at the hostel Riad Bayti and can't say enough good things about it! Wonderful staff, amazing food, gorgeous rooms, and perhaps most importantly, unbeatable price!

Final comment: NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE. Moroccan vendors are pushy and savvy. Assume the first price you've been given is completely wrong. For example: a taxi from the airport into town should cost (max) 100 dirham, not the 300 the drivers will claim it costs ;)

Until Next Time,

Akissi